Roguebook - PC Review

by developer Abrakam Entertainment and publisher NaconPC review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Here we are once more, prepared to get beaten into the floor. What does RNGesus have in store? Perhaps this roguelike will rely on luck more. My awesome poetry aside, today we're taking a look at another roguelike: Roguebook. Will you succeed in your quest to escape the confines of the Roguebook? Or will you be fated to forever wander its pages forever?

Welcome to the world of Faeria, where all the worlds legends are stored in a book. A magic book that has sucked you into the depths of its pages and refuses to let go. Four of you were dragged into the book, but only two are allowed to explore its pages. Can you best your foes and reach the end of the ever changing story that is the Roguebook?

Roguebook is an interesting title, as it feels like a weird amalgamation of traditional deckbuilder, Magic the Gathering, and boardgames like Settlers of Catan. Upon starting your first run of the Roguebook, you'll probably notice real fast that you are on a hex grid with some…ok, a LOT of missing segments. You'll also have a helpful NPC inform you that there is a gate that must be opened ny two, and only two, people. So grab two characters (only two characters are available to start) and head into the Rogue book to start fighting your way out. You can walk around the "world map" interacting with events, picking up healing units, opening vaults for cards, and getting into battles. But to uncover more of the map, you need to use ink and brushes to reveal more of the hex panels. These new panels can also have treasures, events, and pages on them, helping you throughout your journey. Panels are revealed based on the type of ink or brush used, and can either reveal an area around your character, or a set number of tiles in a straight line, for example.

In order to acquire more ink and brushes to explore more of the map, you need to earn them out of fights. Starting a fight you'll see where the Magic the Gathering influence is strong. Combat is performed through selecting cards dealt out from a shuffled deck. You have a set amount of action points per turn, with which you can attack, block to increase a guard rating, etc. based on what the effect of the card is. Each card has its own effect and action value, and you will probably find yourself alternating between defensive and offensive moves. Cards for both "heroes" you selected at the beginning are all shuffled together, and both heroes are on the battlefield. Generally speaking, the hero in front will be the one taking damage and protecting the hero in the back. The heroes can be switched by using certain cards related to the hero in back, or cards with certain effects for the hero in front. You'll be wanting to make the best of your cards to defeat your enemies and earn some gold and ink or brushes from the fighting. You can then take that gold down to the store to purchase more cards, relics, or gems to help you out.

Gems are similar to modifiers that you can attach to your cards. Each card has a number of slots, and you can slot a gem in there to give the effect associated. For example, a gem may increase a cards damage by a set amount, or put an identical card in your hand after use with no gem. Gem can either be purchased from the shop, gathered from certain map icons, or won from events and chapter bosses. The relics are sort of "permanent modifiers" that can either be a party wide effect, or attached to a specific character. Relics tend to be a little rarer, but can give some really nice effects. You can purchase a few relics at the shop, but can also be found in events, chapter bosses, etc. Once you've finished exploring to your satisfaction, or run out of ink, you can head off to the chapter boss. Fair warning: they're tough. Like, really tough if you aren't prepared. For comparison, the final boss on my first succesful run didn't have much in the way of special attacks, but had a passive that increased the cost of all cards by one action point. As well as adding a "doomed coin" to your hand. Quite literally the only reason I won that fight was because I had six minions that did a total of 58 damage per turn. I literally had to turn it into an endurance fight, and I was still left with one character with six health left.

Roguebook handles party member KOs pretty interesting, as if one of your character kicks the bucket, your other character stays up. If you use five "resurrection" cards, the other character comes back with a minimal amount of health. The only problem is this adds "wound" cards to your deck that just take up space, preventing you from getting more cards each turn. Wounds are removed at each chapter clear, but they can be super annoying. But if you persevere and make it through the Roguebook, congratulations! Your reward? Do it again. This time with "epilogue" stories unlocked, where you can slap on negative traits to give a page finding increase madifier. At this point I'd imagine you're wondering what pages are, and what they do. These are your "skill points", and can be placed in a tree at the beginning of a new run. The skills could be character specific, quality of run improvements, or just general benefits.

After completing a run, whether succesful or not, you earn experience for the party level, as well as character levels. These levels can unlock cards for your future runs. and is independant for each character as well as the party level. Even after a succesful run, Roguebook has you coming back for more, whether it be the increased challenges, the fact that a run doesn't take too long, or the endearing graphics and art style, Roguebook is sure to be an immersive experience. And for those who are worried about luck issues? Trust me when I say if I can complete a run, you can too. While I like roguelikes, deckbuilders are generally titles I shy away from. Not due to distaste, but from luck. This coming from a guy who used to play Magic the Gathering for fun, and had four games in a row where I didn't start with a single mana. Since all your used or discarded cards get reshuffled back into your draw pile, and you don't need to play and tap mana, the game can be broken down to strategy if you set yourself up for it, instead of purely luck, although luck certainly does help.

Overall, Roguebook is a great addition to both the roguelike and deck building franchise. The combat system is well fleshed out, the map exploration is fun and thought provoking, and the game isn't purely reliant on luck to get you through. While you probably won't be doing a lot of runs in one sitting, each run is short enough to not feel like a drag, and you can save your progress and leave to come back to it later, or just abandon the run altogether if you need to. With nice graphics and explanations for all the card effects you may not know, simply by hovering your mouse over it, Roguebook is really easy to get drawn into.

Score: 8 / 10